Despite efforts to cultivate a young, internationally oriented collector base in the country, is India still an insular market?

Famed gallerist Larry Gagosian recently sat down with Kelly Crow of The Wall Street Journal to discuss his international operations. As outlined in an article published on 11 October 2012, the dealer remains positive about the Chinese and Middle East art markets, but does not see potential for his business in India.

International gallerist Larry Gagosian.

Early on in the interview, Gagosian affirmed that his Hong Kong-based operations were still going strong, despite the downturn in the Chinese market. He noted that the interest for his artists in that region is still quite high, strong enough to merit looking for another space in Hong Kong where he might display large-scale works.

When it came to the Indian market, however, Gagosian was far less bullish. As he said in the interview,

We have some Indian collectors who buy from us in London, but we’re not really selling to collectors in India. Maybe we’re not approaching it the right way, or maybe we don’t have the relationships. Usually when the business is there and the appetite for collecting is there, it trickles up. It’s not happening yet. India remains focused on its local art, and its museums aren’t showing international art often enough.

Cultivating a strong, internationally focused collector base has long been one of the major challenges of the contemporary Indian art market. The 2012 edition of India’s premier art event, the India Art Fair, saw the introduction of the Collectors’ Circle, which aimed to educate India’s growing nouveau riche who might be interested in collecting contemporary art but do not know where to start.

India Art Fair Founder Neha Kirpal believes these efforts are paying off. In a podcast with ArtTactic after the 2012 India Art Fair, Kirpal stated that there is a strong positive trend in young buyers at the fair, largely due to these education programmes. She also noted that whereas other contemporary art markets might be hitting a point of saturation, India’s medium-to-long term growth potential remains comparatively strong.

For international galleries that attended the 2012 India Art Fair, some reported that local collectors were still hesitant to buy work by international artists, while others reported that Indian buyers were starting to buy well-known international artists and modern masters, whose work is considered a safer investment. Some galleries interpreted this as a positive sign that Indian collectors might begin to branch out into other segments of the international contemporary art market.

Are Indian collectors too inward-looking or is the country’s art market ripe for international investment? Leave us a comment below with your thoughts.


Related Topics: art investment, art in India, market watch – galleries

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By Brittney

Brittney is a writer, curator and contemporary art gallerist. Born in Singapore and based in New York City, Brittney maintains a deep interest in the contemporary art landscape of Southeast Asia. This is combined with an equally strong interest in contemporary art from the Asian diasporas, alongside the issues of identity, transmigration and global relations.

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